Situated on the edge of Epping Forest, in the grounds of The Forest Gate Inn (a 17th-century free house owned and run by the Stokes family for over 50 years), Haywards is gaining a reputation as one of the go-to fine-dining destinations in this part of Essex. “Just amazing food, service and ambience”, trumpets a fan. Chef/proprietor Jahdre Hayward is doing great things here, delivering seasonal food with bags of style and ambition – think rabbit lasagne with mushroom purée, celeriac purée and thyme foam, steamed sea bass with pea gnocchi and tomato fondue or honey-roast duck breast with salt-baked heritage carrots. There are some intriguing veggie ideas too (ravioli of charlotte potatoes with beer and onion consommé, for example), while desserts could feature chocolate pavé with yoghurt sorbet, passion fruit sorbet and gel. The nearby Gate House B&B offers stylish and comfortable accommodation just a stones throw away from the restaurant and various packages to include dinner and an overnight stay are available.